Daily Devotion for June 22, 2021

Responding to Being Overwhelmed

He shouted at the top of his voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?  I adjure you by God, do not torment me.” For Jesus had already said to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!”                                                                  (Mark 5: 7-8)
               If you are one who is feeling overwhelmed and desperate, who feel as if nothing can help you.  Mark wants to give you a message:  God can help.  God in Jesus can help bring healing to whatever despair, whatever hurts you may have.  Trust that.  Turn toward that.
               A number of years ago, right after the fall of the Soviet Union, the new Russian government asked the United Methodist Church to send missionaries to help rebuild the country.  And our church did.
               On one trip a group of doctors and nurses from the US went to a hospital in Northern Russia, where they worked side by side with the doctors and nurses from Russia.  While they worked, they taught their Russian counterparts stories from the bible and songs of faith.
               They worked side by side for several weeks.  They developed close friendships.
               You can imagine their surprise when the doctors and nurses were met on one of the last mornings by a couple of doctors from Russia and told to get on a bus.  They were told that today would be different.  They were going on a trip.
               So, without a word being said, all of the people gathered onto the bus.  They traveled through the city.  They traveled through the suburbs with the rundown apartment buildings.  They traveled into the countryside and saw lush green pastures.  They traveled into a forested area.  They traveled for hours, without a word being said of their destination.
               They traveled until they got to a place where the forest began to thin.  Then the bus stopped.  Everyone was told to get off the bus.  They did.  Then they started walking through the quickly thinning forest. 
               They got to a point where all of the trees where fallen.  Oddly they had all fallen in the same direction.  As they continued walking the terrain became barren.  There was nothing growing.  Not a tree, not a plant, nothing.  There was no sound of a bird, no animals . . . nothing. 
               After a while they stopped walking.  It was utterly barren and silent.  One of the doctors from Russia said, “This is ground zero.  This is where our government tested its nuclear weapons.  Tell me, can you sing your songs of faith even here?”
               And there was a long pregnant silence . . . Finally, one of the nurses from the United States began to sing.  “Jesus Loves Me . . .” And her lone voice was joined by the others one by one.
               She understood what Mark wanted us to know.  That if we can turn to God in our despair, no matter what happens, no matter how difficult life appears, God will give us the strength to sing God’s songs.  God will be with us in the present to lead us into the future.
               Are you willing to trust God with your life?
            Loving God, thank you for coming to us, even before we are aware of your presence.  Lead us into the unknown future, trusting in the life and love that you extend to us.  Help us to open our eyes and our hearts, to see you and to trust you for our future. In the hope Jesus offers us, Amen.